Skill Level Beginner
- You're probably aware that agile development works by splitting up the development of a project into small parts. Teams hypothesize, design, test, and use metrics to validate their work as often as possible to ensure they're building the right thing. This has major advantages over a waterfall approach, where validation only comes once the entire project is finished. However, agile isn't always easy. A common pitfall is picking the wrong metric to measure success. This is common when many teams are working on different parts of a product at once.
Let's talk about how looking at the user journey can avoid these issues. Imagine you're developing a new app and the new user signup rates are increasing. Sounds like you're doing a great job, right? Well, not necessarily. A more thorough look may show that the retention rates are horrible. You can sign up all the users in the world, but if those users abandon the app as soon as they sign up, your effort is sorely misplaced. A solution to this problem is to track not only one metric, but a set of them within what's called the user journey.
This is just a fancy way of saying the phases a user goes through before, during, and after using a product. But which metrics make up the user journey exactly? Well, the answer is up to you, but, luckily, there are a few frameworks out there that can help you brainstorm. Let's take a look. The first one is a popular framework called the AARRR framework. AARRR is actually an acronym that stands for A, acquisition. How many potential users become aware of your product, such as seeing and downloading your app on the app store.
A, activation. How many of these people actually become users, like creating an account? R for retention. How many come back regularly? So, people using the app every day. R for referral. How many refer others to the product? That is, how many tell their friends about it? And, lastly, R for revenue. How many users are making you money, or, say, buying your product? So, as you can see, going from signing up to being a paying customer is like a journey.
This framework is pretty heavily focused on virality and growth, so, fortunately, there's another one out there originally developed at Google called the HEART framework. HEART is yet another acronym that stands for phases of the user experience. H for happiness. How happy are your users? E for engagement. How frequently are they using your product on a short-term basis? A for adoption. How many users are you gaining over a period of time? R for retention. How many users come back to use it again over the long-term? And, finally, T for task success.
How many users complete a task you deem to be important, like making a purchase or successfully finding something in a search? To put either of these frameworks in practice, make a table with each of these words in a row from top to bottom. In the right column, put a metric you can measure. If you don't have a way to measure a particular phase, you know that you should focus on tracking that metric to get a complete picture. If all of this seems complex, don't worry about it. Don't stress out about adhering to these or any other framework strictly.
They're simply tools to help you decide on which metrics to track. The most important takeaway here is to never track one or two product metrics at a time. Instead, measure several that illustrate the user journey. This ensures your development efforts are correctly placed and is a great way to find out if a change in one place has an unintended effect in the other.